Last Tuesday, The Cave Task Force held its first meeting to discuss improvements to The Cave and its current operations. While the committee was originally formed to discuss potential changes to the 3.2% liquor license, the committee will also address the student body’s overall satisfaction with The Cave.
The task force is comprised of a diverse group of representatives, including the three student managers who run The Cave, two members of the Social Programming Board, two members of the KRLX Board of Directors, two Campus Activities Programming Assistants, two CSA senators, and two Students-at-Large. Initiator of the task force and CSA senator Evan Rowe ’09 said, “The goal of this committee is to make The Cave as good as it can be and it will be a collaborative process.”
Having been in operation since 1927, The Cave boasts the title of the oldest student-run pub in the nation. Initially, The Cave was primarily an on-campus bar with a full liquor license and did not serve as a venue for live music. Then, in the 90s, because stricter regulations in the city of Northfield required a physical separation between bar area and public space, a chicken wire fence was constructed around the bar. Eventually, The Cave switched to a 3.2% liquor license. In providing only what the city deems “non-intoxicating” beverages, the wire fence was removed.
The task force will investigate the possibility of reverting to a full liquor license and thereby enabling The Cave to serve full- strength beer and hard liquor. Richard Hwang ‘10, one of the student managers said, “The idea of providing wine or full-strength beer to of-aged students sounds great, but weighing the pros and cons is quite a difficult undertaking.” This would require working within the city of Northfield’s regulations and Carleton’s policies. If the full alcoholic license is contingent upon only allowing students of legal age to be in The Cave, “we would rather keep the 3.2% license and not have to bar underage students from our shows,” said Hwang. He also furthered stressed, “The Cave first and foremost is a venue and we are keeping it all ages.”
With the ultimate aim of improving the cave, the task force will also be looking into concerns and dissatisfaction with The Cave from both the standpoint of the student managers and the standpoint of the larger student body. “We put a lot of effort into our work, trying to provide an environment for students to relax and do homework during coffee nights, and to enjoy live music on concert nights,” said Hwang. However, it seems students simply do not consider The Cave a prime hang out location as they do Sayles-Hill. This could in part be due to the fact that many simply aren’t aware of everything The Cave offers. Not all students know that new food items have been added to the menu and Schillers are accepted. Also, with the newly expanded hours of operations, aside from Monday nights, The Cave is open every night from eight till midnight.“We’re always surprised that people don’t seem to know there is a free and good show every single week,” said a member of The Cave sound crew. Many of the bands booked are from The Twin Cities and occasionally an out-of-state group will be brought in to perform as well. The Task Force has recognized that sometimes the artists featured are unknown and has started brainstorming ideas to improve promotional efforts. Preliminary plans include tabling in Sayles and playing the artist’s music.
There are concerns from the student body as well. “Some students have expressed feelings that while The Cave should be a venue open to everyone, it seems to only cater to a small group of people on campus,” said Rowe. Thus the task force will seek to address the important question: what can be done to make The Cave a more prominent part of life at Carleton?Whether or not this will include a change to the current funding is yet to be determined. As with any other student organization, The Cave receives funding from CSA during the Spring Allocations process. Currently, this amount stands at $40,554 and goes towards booking bands and general operations such as supplies and wages. Only in unusual cases do the managers request Special Allocation funding. “We'll wait until the Cave Task Force has had more chances to discuss before recommending any changes,” said Rowe.